Education, nowadays, is a very lucrative business. People with a small investment can set up a school. On every other corner of a residential locality, schools can be seen. However, these schools are not schools in the traditional sense for these schools are built in rented houses. The Director of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), Iftikhar Kaimkhani, while clarifying the current confusion, has said that the authority wants all educational institutions to move their facilities to buildings that meet all regulations by the start of next academic year.

The “alert” of the SBCA give rise to a question worth asking. Why did the education department allow people to set up schools in residential areas? Because the schools that have been set up in residential areas do not qualify as schools. According to the requirements of Sindh Private Education Institutions Ordinance 2001, all private schools need to “provide and maintain required infrastructure including building, classrooms, laboratory, library, playground, canteen and safe drinking water facilities.” If a building lacks these facilities, then it cannot be called a school.

It is sad to note that many of these profit-generating entities lack all the facilities that are essential for creating an environment of a school. Unfortunately, different living spaces within any such house are turned into classrooms where students are stuffed like chicken. These schools are not different than a poultry farm. Unfortunately, such schools have mushroomed enormously.

The credit for mushroom growth of such profit-making buildings goes to the education department. Few give a thought to what the darker side of privatising the education will look like as the assumption that privatising education increases literacy rate of the populace is still in vogue. The standard of education is on the decline owing much to what the private schools teach to the students.

A school is a place that prepares leaders of the future. The driving philosophy under which schools should operate is to make a child a productive member of society. However, it is only possible, if the desire for profit does not corrupt the owners of the schools. But the owners of private schools seldom give it a thought. For them, making money out of education takes precedence above anything else.

It is about time to stop thinking of education as a commodity available in the market. The provincial education departments should intervene in the affairs of the private schools to ensure not only the provision of quality education to the students but also inspecting if these schools meet the criteria set in the ordinance mentioned above.